Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Grocery Bill

Some days, I look at the grocery bill and feel guilty.  After all, I'm the one who has the most restrictions.  Chocolate chips cost $3.39; rather than $1.99.  Pasta is pretty close to the same.  I can't swap brands for a better price.  My daughter may be gluten free...but she isn't corn free.  And sometimes gluten free by itself isn't all that expensive.
But recently I was given a puzzle.  As you may recall if you read my blog regularly, I was recently on an extended liquid diet.  Consisting of mostly broth, pureed veggies from said broth, applesauce and gelatin.
It wasn't a very expensive diet.
I was still making meals.  The grocery bill should have gone down a bit, with Mr. Violets having extra leftovers for lunches and Penguin having extra leftovers for munching.  Oddly, it went up quite a bit...just for those two weeks.  I was truly puzzled when I looked over the credit card bill.
But then I turned to the receipts, and I looked in the fridge.
It seems that instead of using those leftovers, new meals were made and consumed.  And instead of finishing off the last bit of hummus, it was pushed to the back to make room for a new tub.  There were 3 tubs of (unsafe for me) margarine in there.  And the summer sale stash I'd stockpiled?
So this is what happens when moms get sick.
No one went hungry while I was down.  (And no one goes hungry when I'm *not* down)  Actually, I wasn't all that down and out...the liquid fast thing helped a lot.  I was tired, but mostly functional.  I did work more on "get that yourself". 
I had noticed that the tupperware cupboard was looking a little bare.  I hadn't noticed how much toast Gluten Free Penguin was enjoying.  I was just mentioning the leftovers and presuming the family would follow through.
Before this turns into some sort of poor me rant, I want to skip straight to the point.
Eating allergen free doesn't have to be all that expensive.  It's only expensive when you don't mediate your choices.  Look in the fridge, use those leftovers.  Put off shopping trips, and while it's important to stock up on sale items when they are on sale...they need to still be used as if you don't have a huge stockpile and are still limited to one or two packages a week or month.
I can make a tuna casserole that's safe for all of us.  It's not gourmet, but it's tasty.  It costs about a dollar a serving.  But if we throw half of it away, it costs $2 per serving.  And the amount that is thrown away gets replaced by other, often more expensive, snacks and lunch items.
Likewise...rice and beans costs maybe $4 total?  And after it serves us, there is enough rice leftover, generally, for fried rice tomorrow night. But if we throw half of it away, the cost doubles.  And leftover night becomes "easy meal" night...and easy meals are generally a little more expensive at least for the ones eating single serve items. 
On the other hand, the old standby, a sandwich, costs about $2 each for Penguin.  More if dairy free cheese is involved.  And it's not filling by itself.  $2 doesn't sound like much, but it adds up quickly.  The worst part is that gf bread may be a good vehcle for hummus, tomatoes and other items...but it isn't in itself very nourishing. 
It's good to know that my corn-free status isn't the sole source of high grocery bills.  Allergy eating can be expensive...but it can be affordable, too.  With a little bit of planning. 

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